Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Interview with Keary Taylor and Giveaway of What I Didn't Say

Candace's Book Blog

Today we are lucky enough to have Keary Taylor on the blog for an interview and giveaway.  This is a different sort of interview because you can find the first part of the interview at Candace's Book Blog with a giveaway and the rest of it right here with another giveaway.  That's right, you have two chances to win! Find the first half HERE.





Family is extremely important in What I Didn't Say, and in so many YA books these days family is conveniently missing in much of it. For that reason it stands out to me and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling as we all want a family like Jakes. Did you grow up in a family like that? Do you think authors should try to make a point of including family more often in books?


You know, every book is different and you have to use different elements to make your characters into the people they are. I do wish there were more functional families in YA because it is so often missing. I did come from a great family. I have 4 little sisters and some wonderful parents. Jake’s family was actually largely based on my husband’s family. He was the middle of seven children and it is a big, crazy but loving family!

As an author who did everything on your own what is your first bit of advice to authors wanting to self-publish their work?

Do your research into how to properly format. Get a good cover because people WILL judge you on your cover alone. Be prepared to work. A LOT. And you can’t go into it for the money or you will be very disappointed. It may come eventually, but it takes time.


What has been the most difficult part of the writing and publishing process for you?


I think everything is difficult, lol! In the beginning it was just learning everything about the publishing process. I knew NOTHING. Now it’s trying to manage my time. There is always so much to do. There’s email to keep up on, there is marketing, there is writing, there is reading. It is endless.



Which of your books was the easiest for you to write? The hardest?

I would say EDEN was the easiest. It came out so easily and so quickly. The characters were just so real to me. The hardest was FORSAKEN, book two in my FALL OF ANGELS series. I was nearly done with it when I realized I hated the whole first 2/3 of it. So I scrapped it and started it over.



Do you have a favorite character?

Of my own characters? Oh man, that’s like asking which of my children is my favorite!


If you could travel to anywhere in the world at any time in the past, present or future, when and where would you go, and why?

Such a broad question. I’ll stick with the past. I would LOVE to visit ancient Egypt. I used to be obsessed with it as a young teenager. I actually got this book and started teaching myself how to read hieroglyphics. Someday I would love to write a book with Egyptian mythology.


What are 3 indie/self-published authors that you highly recommend?

Jenni Merritt, Nikki Jefford, and Samantha Young. They are all very good friends and are all incredibly talented!


The Giveaway:
One paperback copy of What I Didn't Say provided by the fabulous Keary Taylor.
Open to US only.
Must be 13 or older.
Ends 9/13/12
Enter by filling out the rafflecopter below.

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Benji's Waiting on Wednesday: The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Because this is a blog featuring authors from the Pacific Northwest each WoW we participate in will feature authors from the Pacific Northwest.
This week's pick is:

The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton
Release Date ~ 10/2/12
Publisher ~ Self-Published
A bloody escape, a deadly threat, a shocking revelation...
Tiki’s greatest fear suddenly becomes all too real: the fey have returned to London seeking revenge. As war escalates in the Otherworld, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold, is attacked. In order to protect her family and those she loves, Tiki needs to know the meaning of an fáinne sí, the birthmark that winds around her wrist. But will she be brave enough to face the truth?

The first book in this series was so different then the regular paranormal book. I love the fact it takes place in Victorian London and mixes in faeries and the world of the fey. It combines the royal courts with the courts of the fey, and I loved it. Kiki has an awesome style of writing too!

About Benji:
Hi, I'm Benji Kenworthy of The Non Reluctant Reader, which I've been blogging at since January of 2011. I'm one of those odd male book bloggers, and I'm also one of those young teenage book bloggers. So I'm pretty much a minority in the blogging community no matter how you slice it. A true Northwesterner, I can't stand the thought of weather over 60 degrees. I also go by many different names and titles, including but not limited to: The self proclaimed king of sarcasm. Soccer Fanatic. Pizza addict. Vegetarian. Lunatic. Remember, I eat the brains so you don't have to. Find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Girls' Nightmare Out Tour Event Recap

This post was also posted on The Non Reluctant Reader
The Girls' Nightmare Out tour is hosted by Tor to promote the authors of their paranormal YA books.
The Girls' Nightmare Out Tour Featuring YA Authors Kendare Blake, Lisa Desrochers, Marta Acosta, and Amanda Hocking! 
Thursday, 8/23 7:00 pm. Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.
    This event was one of the best book signings I've ever been to! I was so excited for it! The day started it with a local publicist (and awesome person named Tina) and I leaving Port Townsend at 1:30. It's a two hour drive to Third Place books (the host bookstore) for the event. We were having a pre-event dinner with the authors and local bloggers at 5:00 and we still didn't arrive at the bookstore til at least 5:30, which just shows how terrible Seattle traffic is *groan* 

   Once we finally did get to the bookstore I got to have dinner with Kendare Blake, Marta Acosta, and Amanda Hocking! All of which were amazing people to talk to! Kristina from Kristina's World of Books who I had met before was also there and it was also great to catch up with her and tell her congrats in person for her pregnancy!
Then the event started and that was awesome, here are some pictures from that:

Here are some things I learned about the different authors:
1. Marta Acosta also writes vampire satire! Which I find flippin' awesome.
2. Lisa Desrochers didn't tell anyone she was writing her book until it was completely finished. 
3. Amanda Hocking writes 8-12 hours a day, which is SO incredible! Her secret? Lots and lots of red bull. 
4. Kendare Blake has scared herself twice while writing her books and she says she loves it when that happens! 
5. Lisa Desrochers has two other jobs besides writing, and says she writes whenever has time between the two others, mostly at night. She says sleep is overrated. 

After the talk was over we got to mingle with the authors and chat with them some more. Here is a group photo we snagged with all the authors and bloggers that were there:
From left to right:
Kendare Blake (above), me (below), Lisa Desrochers (above), Anna from Peace, Love, Teen Fiction (below), Amanda Hocking (above), Kristina from Kristina's Word of Books (below), Marta Acosta (above), and Rachel from Beauty and the Bookshelf (below) .

   This event was so amazing! I loved every minute of it and the authors were all great! And the bottom line is: READ THEIR BOOKS or SUFFER MY WRATH! 

About Benji:
Hi, I'm Benji Kenworthy of The Non Reluctant Reader, which I've been blogging at since January of 2011. I'm one of those odd male book bloggers, and I'm also one of those young teenage book bloggers. So I'm pretty much a minority in the blogging community no matter how you slice it. A true Northwesterner, I can't stand the thought of weather over 60 degrees. I also go by many different names and titles, including but not limited to: The self proclaimed king of sarcasm. Soccer Fanatic. Pizza addict. Vegetarian. Lunatic. Remember, I eat the brains so you don't have to. Find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Giveaway: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Check out our review of Anna Dressed in Blood HERE.
And our review of Girl of Nightmares HERE.

 Giveaway:
Thanks to TorTeen Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings has a finished copy of this book to give away to one of you.  
This is open to US addresses only.
You must be 13 or older to enter.
Ends 9/13
Fill out the rafflecopter to enter.
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Candace & Heidi Review Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published: August 7th, 2012 by Tor
Source: Publisher

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Heidi's Thoughts, also published in a complete review at Rainy Day Ramblings.
  • I was thrilled to see all of the cast from Anna Dressed in Blood not only return for the sequel, but all of them have a more significant role.  I was excited to get to know Morfran a bit better in this book. He is so interesting and entertaining, I think Ms. Blake could write an entire book in his voice.  Thomas and Carmel are back as well, and this time they are Cas' ever present helping hands in ghost hunting.  Carmel is fierce, funny and headstrong, while Thomas is loyal and helpful with his spells and mind reading abilities.  I enjoyed the way Thomas was always sneaking into Cas' head.  I was delighted to see that Thomas and Carmel were a couple, although their relationship status was not thoroughly detailed. 
  • I liked that this book gives us a bit more insight into the anthame.  The reader learns of its origins and more about its powers.  
  • I appreciated Cas' growth.  He is resolved to putting down some roots in Thunder Bay, accepting the help of his new friends, and determined to do the right thing.  I liked that even under duress he refuses to kill ghosts that are doing no harm, despite the objections of the Order.  He sticks to his guns and doesn't give in.  I also admired his determination to see things through with Anna, even if that meant a huge sacrifice.  Cas has quickly become one of my favorite male leads, next to Ethan of The Caster's Chronicles.
  • I love that this series steps away from love triangles and cliff hangers.  Both books have neat resolutions with dangling threads for new possibilities.  I am not sure if there will be a third book in this series, but if there is, it will certainly take a new direction.  I personally hope the series continues, as I want to see Cas get his happy ending. 
  • I love that this book is peppered with funny one liners and numerous witty comments. 
  • On a side note, the cover of this book is absolutely stunning. I love it!

Candace's Thoughts, also published at Candace's Book Blog.

Cas is such a great character, and in Anna I absolutely adored him and his awesome inner snark (and outer snark as well).  And I was pleased to have him back even though it was toned down by his depression.  I still got plenty of giggles from the things he said and thought. 
I'm not a fan of horror.  So why the heck did I read this series?!  Well, I read Anna because everyone was raving about it, I couldn't resist.  Then I was surprised that it didn't really scare me and Cas's hilarious snark kept me reading.  I ended up loving it.  And then I had to read this one, of course.  It still had some parts that I wouldn't want to read at night, but it really wasn't too bad.  After reading some reviews I thought maybe this one would be really mild on the horror end of things, but while it was different, there were still plenty of horrific ghosts and 'monsters' making appearances.
I definitely recommend you pick these books up!
Disclosure:  The book was provided by the publisher for review.  All opinions expressed are our own and we were not paid or influenced in any way.

Find Kendare Blake on her website.

About Heidi:
I am currently a stay at home mother of two toddlers, who keep me very busy. I also have a wonderful, supportive husband without whom this blog would not be possible.  I am a recent transplant to the rainy, region of Portland, Oregon; thus the reason for my blog Rainy Day Ramblings.  The many rainy days here provide me ample time to snuggle up under a comfy blanket with a cat and read while the rain drips down my window.
I also, when I find time, enjoy baking, candle and jewelry making, cross stitching and spending ample time with family.
Find me on my blog, facebook, and twitter.   
About Candace:
Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Candace Reviews Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Hardcover, 326 pgs
Published August 30th, 2011 by TorTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Gift
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
This review was also posted at Candace's Book Blog.
 There were a lot of things I liked about this book but when I think of it the thing I liked the very most was Cas.  He was a male character that I live to read about.  And male MC's in YA aren't terribly easy to find.  Cas reminded me a bit of Cassel in the Curse Workers series, personality wise.  He was pretty bold and snarky but was real in that he still made mistakes.  He still had feelings and emotions that he didn't always want to have.  He had a thick skin and was incredibly brave.  And sometimes his bravery almost passed into stupidity but in his line of work his thick skin and fast thinking are what kept him alive.  But suddenly he's come across something that he's never had to deal with.  He's never seen anything like the likes of Anna and she's totally thrown him off his game.  
I really don't want to get into much detail about this book because it's best to not have a clue what to expect.  I will tell you that I scare easily and while this one had some good creepy/gory/scary scenes it wasn't downright horrifying for me.  And while I can live without any scary {I generally don't read horror} at all I still absolutely adored this book and it's story line and it couldn't have been what it was without the scary creepy stuff.  Also keep in mind that this is YA and it's just not going to be as downright scary as adult horror.  This was definitely more my level of scary and so those who are big horror fans probably won't find it too horrifying.
I inhaled this book like it was air and the second I finished I was dying for more Cas.  
 
Disclosure:  I received this book as a gift from another blogger.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.
 
 Find Kendare Blake on her website.
 
About Candace:
 Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Benji's Waiting on Wednesday: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

This is also posted on The Non Reluctant Reader.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Because this is a blog featuring authors from the Pacific Northwest each WoW we participate in will feature authors from the Pacific Northwest.
This week's pick is:
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Release Date ~ 2/5/2013
Publisher ~ Feiwel and Friends
Add it On Goodreads
Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.
As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.
I am freaking excited for this book! Cinder was by far the best fairy-tale re-tellings I've ever read and also one of my favorite dystopians! I thought Cinder was an amazing main character to read about and Marissa crafted a debut novel that is very hard to match! And c'mon... look at the cover... how can you not just want to hug it close to you for a million years (Okay, now I'm sounding like a perv). If I have to wait to February 2013 to read this, blood will spill. (Hint, hint, Feiwel and Friends :P)

Hi, I'm Benji Kenworthy of The Non Reluctant Reader, which I've been blogging at since January of 2011. I'm one of those odd male book bloggers, and I'm also one of those young teenage book bloggers. So I'm pretty much a minority in the blogging community no matter how you slice it. A true Northwesterner, I can't stand the thought of weather over 60 degrees. I also go by many different names and titles, including but not limited to: The self proclaimed king of sarcasm. Soccer Fanatic. Pizza addict. Vegetarian. Lunatic. Remember, I eat the brains so you don't have to. Find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Sweetest Spell (Released today) by Suzanne Selfors

Featured Author for the Week - Suzanne Selfors

Today, 'The Sweetest Spell' comes out! In celebration we have been featuring Suzanne Selfors for the past week. Today I'm previewing 'The Sweetest Spell' for you. Make sure you check the previous days for more reviews and an interview with Suzanne Selfors!



The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: August 21st 2012 by Walker & Company

Welcome to Anglund, a fairy-tale kingdom where chocolate is only a legend.
Emmeline Thistle, a dirt-scratcher's daughter has escaped death twice--first on the night she was born, and second, on the day her entire village was swept away by a flood. Left with nothing and no one, Emmeline discovers her rare and mysterious ability--she can churn cream into chocolate, a delicacy more precious than gold.
Suddenly the most unwanted girl in Anglund is desired by all. But Emmeline wants only one--Owen Oak, a dairyman's son, whose slow smiles and lingering glances tempt her to believe she might someday be loved for herself. But others will stop at nothing to use her gift for their own gains--no matter what the cost to Emmeline.
Magic and romance entwine in this fantastical world where true love and chocolate conquer all.
Wow...this book...is AMAZING.  I could not put it down, well I had to because I was at work, but you know what I mean.  Emmeline is a young girl with a few things against her.  First she's a dirt-scratcher, which means that she lives in a place that only works the fields for their livelihoods.  She also has a deformity and was left for dead in the field when she was born.  Emmeline really grabbed my heart.  I wanted to give her a hug and be her friend.  There were actually several characters I felt had a great attitude but it was definitely fun to see the evil characters and figure out the little mysteries surrounding what they may have said or done to cause beliefs in townspeople or even another character.  One of these mysteries is how the dirt-scratchers came to be and why they were treated as they were.

This story was perfect from beginning to end.  The ending closed off the story enough that I could imagine how things would go for Emmeline in the future.  The beginning was helpful in setting the story up for the magic that would occur later for Emmeline.  There were definitely some trials for the two main characters here, but I was drawn into the story and hoping that everything would turn out all right.  This story is told not only by Emmeline but also a male character.  You will have to read it to find out who!

I really enjoyed this story because everything wasn't easy for the characters.  I appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into the characters back stories so that I had a true feeling of who different people were.  It was also great that while there were a number of characters, I had an easy time recalling who each one was at any given time.  Sometimes stories have so many characters I have to go back and check to see who someone is.

I can't wait to see what Suzanne writes next for Young Adult because I will be first in line to buy it!

Find Suzanne at her website.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes for this Feature Week. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Join us as we interview Suzanne Selfors


Featured Author for the Week - Suzanne Selfors

Tomorrow 'The Sweetest Spell' comes out! In celebration we have be featuring Suzanne Selfors for the week. Today we interview Suzanne and learn more about her!  Make sure you check out the preview weeks worth of posts that review her other books!



Can you tell us about 'The Sweetest Spell' in 10 words or less?
Lowly peasant girl + chocolate = magical love story.


What kinds of jobs have you had besides writing?
Fresh out of college I owned a video production company for a few years with a friend, then I worked at KCPQ television in Seattle, and then as a Marketing Director for a nonprofit. To get through college I worked as a children's photographer, a Nordstrom sales associate, and a prep cook.


This or That: Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate?

Dark.


What kind of research did you have to do for your books?

Every single book requires research. For my Smells Like Dog series I read a lot about map-making. When I described Homer jumping out of a plane, that required research, though I chose to interview jumpers rather than attempt the feat myself. When I created the character of Rocky the Marmot for Fortune's Magic Farm, I went to a wildlife shelter and played with a Raccoon, the closet thing to a marmot I could find. (see attached photo)


What is your favorite thing about living in the Pacific Northwest?

I love green. Whenever I go away and come back, the first thing I see is all the green. We are so lucky to have all these trees. This is the most glorious spot in the world.


If you could time travel when and where would you go? Why?

I'm a Shakespeare nerd, so I'd definitely want to meet William, and get a definitive answer on whether or not he wrote the dang plays!


What is your favorite book of all time? Give us a short description of it.

Don't have one. No way can I choose one. But I will tell you that I love every single book written by Roald Dahl. When I read his stories, I feel as if he's writing just for me. He also wrote some great adult stories, quite steamy actually. Check them out.


Are your characters based on real people?

Some are. My father is in a number of my books. And so are my kids. And the character of Katrina, in Coffeehouse Angel, is semi-autobiographical. And there are two villians based on real people but I'm not going to reveal who they are.


What can we expect to see in the future from you?

After The Sweetest Spell comes out in August, my next book is Smells Like Pirates. It's the 3rd book in the Smells Like Dog series. Then, in 2013, a new series begins called The Imaginary Veterinary. I'm really excited about it. It will be for young readers.
I'm trying to save time for an adult novel. I have an idea that's knocking around in my head.

How much input did you have on the covers of your books?

Almost zero. I usually get a jpeg asking if I like the cover, but mostly the decision is made by the publisher. I did have a huge say, though, in the new covers for Fortune's Magic Farm and To Catch a Mermaid. And I love the Sweetest Spell's cover.




Thanks Suzanne for answering our questions!  We are so excited for 'The Sweetest Spell'!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

Featured Author for the Week - Suzanne Selfors

Next week 'The Sweetest Spell' comes out! In celebration we will be featuring Suzanne Selfors for the week. Today I'm reviewing Coffeehouse Angel. Make sure you check in each day for more reviews and an interview with Suzanne Selfors!

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors
Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Walker & Company



Description from Goodreads:

'When a random act of kindness involves Katrina with Malcolm, a handsome teenage guardian angel intent on fulfilling her greatest wish, fame and fortune seem like the most obvious requests. But after two botched wishes, Malcolm knows Katrina is hiding something from him. How can she tell him the truth, when her heart's desire has become Malcolm himself?'

If I remember right I saw this book in the window at the library.  My local library has a teen room with big glass windows where they put feature various books in the window on one side and audio books in the other side.  I am always checking out the books in the windows because honestly, covers matter to me.  I admit that if the inside summary looks uninteresting to me I won't read it but usually covers are what grab me first.  The cover on my library copy is actually not the cover shown above.  The library copy has a teen girl holding a coffee with a teen guy in the doorway behind her.   Plus the summary looked interesting.  

Katrina is a slightly stressed teen girl who works in her grandmother's coffee shop.  This shop is frequented by a group of older gentlemen who come in for the same food every day.  Katrina's grandmother is against change so they have none of the newer coffees ie. espresso, etc.   And this has created an issue as there is a newer hip coffee shop next door that claims to use organic free trade coffee.  The next door coffee shop is also continually trying to get Katrina's grandmother to sell.  He wouldn't only be buying the coffee shop but also the upstairs apartment where Katrina and her grandmother live.

This story starts off with Katrina walking out into the alley to take the trash out and finding a young man dressed somewhat shabbily in the alley trying to sleep.  Katrina is frightened thinking he may do her harm but ends up putting a coffee and some day old danishes outside for him.  This gesture of goodwill ends up being the good deed that keeps our possible homeless teen in Katrina's life.  

This story is a contemporary but has some magical elements.  Ever read a book about magical beans?  Well this story has magical coffee beans.  I loved that Katrina was granted wishes and that Malcolm, who is the young man she found in the alley turns out to be an angel.  This story was a fun read and I definitely recommend all of Suzanne's books.  


Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library to read.  I was not asked to review this book. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors

Featured Author for the Week - Suzanne Selfors

Next week 'The Sweetest Spell' comes out! In celebration we will be featuring Suzanne Selfors for the week. Today I'm reviewing 'Saving Juliet'. Make sure you check in each day for more reviews and an interview with Suzanne Selfors!



Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Walker & Company

Description from Goodreads:

'Manhattan meets Verona in this time-bending twist on Shakespeare.

When Mimi is magically thrust into the middle of Shakespeare’s Verona, she must find a way to help Juliet fight for her future happiness. Will she be able to give this classic tragedy a happy ending?'

Candace's Thoughts:
Saving Juliet is about Mimi whose family owns a theater in NYC.  She's been raised to be an actress but unfortunately doesn't feel the call.  She'd rather go to college for pre-med rather than spend her life acting.  But her mother doesn't think that's acceptable.  Mimi feels as though she's living her mothers dream instead of her own and it makes her angry.

After breathing in dust from a charm that broke she transported to Verona and into the story of Romeo and Juliet.  Only, is this Romeo and Juliet's story, or Mimi's story? In the story we meet cruel mother Capulet who is insisting upon Juliet's marriage to the horrible Paris.  What role does Mimi play in this tragedy?  Or can it be changed and not be a tragedy at all?

I really liked Mimi's character and her inner voice.  We see lots of growth through the book as she finds her way and discovers more about herself.  She tries to figure things out and make the best decisions she can for everyone, not just herself.  And along the way maybe she'll discover who her first love is, is it someone from Romeo and Juliet's Verona, or someone from her own time and place?

This was a fun read that you just can't take too seriously.  But at the same time the mother daughter relationship was very strong as they struggle to understand each other.  Not only Mimi and her mother, but Juliet and her mother as well.  The relationships made me cringe and want to yell because of lack of understanding on everyone's parts, but particularly the mothers.  I enjoyed this bit of emotion that was thrown into what was largely a fun read with a very fast plot.  I definitely recommend you give it a try, just be prepared to not take anything too serious.


*Disclosure: This book was borrowed from the library. I was not asked to review this book. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hwa Sun Reviews Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Hardcover, 387 pages.
Published Jan. 3rd, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

This review was provided by Hwa Sun and was first posted on Shangri La of Books.

Cinder is a fascinating retelling of Cinderella with a delightful sci-fi twist.

First of all, this world that Marissa Meyer has created is simply brilliant. She's a freaking genius.

As for the characters, Cinder was awesome. She's smart and level headed, both of which are always good traits to have. She's not afraid to use force if it comes down to it, knows how to be sarcastic, and has a personality that I can easily relate to. I think Prince Kai was amazing, too. I loved his snarky side because it was funny, and he could actually control it and not take his anger out on everyone. He had the ability to keep it mostly to himself, which I very much appreciated.

Now, about the plot: the first 150 pages or so were slow. Nothing big happened, and there were only two reasons why I kept reading through it. One was that I kept hoping that something would happen soon, and the second reason was because the world building was so fantastic, it drew me in and wouldn't let go. I wanted to know more about the world.

When the plot finally began to unfold, I was reeled in even further. The last hundred pages practically flew by. I'll admit, the plot was rather predictable, but it didn't stop me from enjoying it.

The ending was one that I liked very much. It wasn't a cliffhanger, which was good. It closed off this book, while at the same time, it opened up for the sequel.

I thoroughly enjoyed Cinder, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the series bring.

Hwa Sun :)

Cinder is also available on audio and you can hear a clip of it here:  http://media.us.macmillan.com/video/olmk/macmillanaudio/CinderCh1.mp3  For some reason my computer won't open it, but I hope it works for you!

Disclosure:  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

A little about Hwa Sun: 
Yellow~ My name is Hwa Sun (pronounced exactly how it's spelled), and I'm a teenage girl who has been a bibliophile since the 4th grade. I moved to WA quite recently. I'm a book blogging newbie, and my preferred genre is anything YA. My favorite books in the world are the Harry Potter series. When not reading (or blogging) I spend my time singing, dancing, and writing. My book blog is The Shangri La of Books and you can find my other contact links there!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gregg Olsen Lunch and Port Gamble Walking Tour Event

 
This is also posted on Candace's Book Blog.
 
On August 4th I had the pleasure of meeting Gregg Olsen, author of The Empty Coffin series and many adult true crime books.  There were other bookish people attending as well as a few other bloggers.

We met in Port Gamble Washington, which is only a short distance from Seattle (though you have to take a ferry across which takes some time).  Port Gamble is the town where The Empty Coffin series takes place and is a nestled in the woods along the water (sort of on a bluff above the water.  It's an adorable town with only a couple streets that are comprised of cute houses turned into little shops as well as a General Store (which has always been the General Store) and the Post Office which is also a theater.  The homes are all somewhat similar in appearance as I believe they were mostly build around the same time.  Some have been added on in different areas giving each a unique shape.  They are all well maintained and have gorgeous yards.  Some with just the green grass and others full of gorgeous flowers and well landscaped.  The town definitely has a unique feel to it and I immediately fell in love.

We met in front of the General Store and I first met with Sarah from Sarah's Random Musings and Benji at The Non Reluctant Reader and we chatted while waiting for everyone else.  I have met Sarah before and I know Benji from his blog, but hadn't met him yet.  My husband and kids were with as well.

Before long Gregg Olsen and the others arrived and we trekked over to an old haunted house where we got to walk through to tour it.  It had awesome fireplaces and gorgeous windows.  It's not lived in and is falling apart, but is still beautiful.  And yes, it is haunted.  While a paranormal investigator confirmed it, I did feel a presence in the upstairs bedroom and had a bad case of vertigo.  I don't like people to think I'm crazy, so I'll avoid talking about that, but I definitely believed there were ghosts in the house.

After walking through the house we sat down for lunch.  Gregg provided us with the most delicious lunch EVER.  It was a portobello mushroom 'burger'.  I'm vegetarian so was very happy to find it was something I could eat!  Unfortunately I can't stop thinking about it's deliciousness... It's sold at the cafe in the General Store so if you ever visit, that's what you must eat!

While we ate Gregg talked about his books.  The YA books, Envy and Betrayal as well as his adult true crime books.  I wanted to take notes so I could share everything with you guys, but I had my kids with me and I was struggling to feed them and keep them quiet at the same time.  So I know I missed a lot, but what I heard was really interesting and I'll definitely be picking up more of his books.  I asked him how many hours a day he writes and he said that he writes 1,000 words a day.  Some days those words aren't any good, but he writes them anyway.  The next day he revises.  It's interesting how different each authors style is.  He doesn't do outlines either, he lets the creativity take over.  We also learned more about the true stuff he drew from.  He has twin daughters so he used true experiences with them in the books. As a matter of fact, we got to meet one of those daughters as she was there and chatted with us a bit.

After the discussion and eating we moved outside where we walked up to the cemetery.  The cemetery is in the book and is absolutely beautiful.  You can see the bridge where the awful event happened (I don't want to spoil it, but if you've read Envy you know what happened on the bridge) from up on the hill.  And there's a beautiful view of the water as well.  I just noticed that the bridge doesn't show up in the picture, but it's just to the left behind the trees.



We did a group photo while up there and everyone chatted a bit before we moved down the hill to see all the houses.  In Envy the houses are numbered and in real life they are too.  Not like the address number, but by house number.  They have an address as well.  Unfortunately I don't remember which house is which as far as the numbers go, but I did get some pictures.





This is Katelyn's house and the upper room is the room she was found murdered in.  (If I remember correctly.)
I can't seem to remember whose house this was, but it seemed like it was one that was in the story.  Or maybe this is the one where the foreign exchange student is staying in Betrayal (pretty sure that's it).
We then moved on to where we got to meet a paranormal investigator and she talked about the different hauntings in town.  It also turns out that the first house we visited will be featured on one of those television shows that is about hauntings (I don't recall which one). It was all fascinating and didn't surprise me one bit.  It just feels like a haunted town.  And it's not like a scary haunted either, but I just feel them there.

After that we walked on seeing a few other sites before ending up at Hailey and Taylors house.  This house is the oldest house in Washington that has been continuously occupied.  We got to tour the inside but it was the outside that was truly impressive because the current resident most definitely has a green thumb!
We then did another group photo.
Before saying goodbye Gregg gave us all goodie bags (okay, we got the goodie bags before the group photo).  And in them we each got Envy, Betrayal, an awesome Envy charm bracelet, a Sterling notepad and a pen, a hangman game pad and in addition we were given books about the history of Pope and Talbot which has a good section about the history of Port Gamble (it was fascinating!).

It was an AMAZING day and I want to say a HUGE thank you to Gregg Olsen for doing all that he did and to Gail who helped put it all together.  We had to drive several hours to get there, but we turned it into a weekend away and it was totally worth it!  And I think Port Gamble will be a destination for many trips in the future!
Preorder Betrayal from Amazon or buy the bargain priced Envy from Amazon.

Order links are affiliate links and I will receive a small amount of money if anyone buys through them.  All pictures used were taken by myself and are owned by me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

In the Land of Huckleberries and Wokas by @writerkristenj

In The Land of Huckleberries and Wokas
By Kristen James
Released May 27, 2012
Approx. 40 pages

Young Snow Bird is taken from her people in a raid and forced to leave her marshes and people behind. A young brave in the raiding party offers help but he cannot help all of the women in children. She must decide if she can leave them and search for help.

I was not sure what to expect when I started reading this novella.  I was thrown right into the story and loved it.  I think my only problem with novellas is I always want MORE.  Snow Bird is an interesting character who holds her own and knows herself and how to handle any situation.  She is smart and inspiring.  If Kristen writes a series of novellas based on Snow Bird I'll be in line to buy them all.  I would definitely recommend checking this novella out.  I purchased my copy on the Kindle story and read it one day while waiting for the train to come.

Do you enjoy novellas?  I think the redeeming factor in novellas is when I have a short period of time they are great.  I love losing myself in a story and knowing that I will have used my time wisely.


Find Kristen on her website and twitter.

Disclosure: I purchased this book and all opinions expressed are my own, I was not paid or influenced in any way.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Post: Ann Herrick Discusses Research and It's Importance.


Today Ann Herrick is on the blog talking about research.  She is the author of The Farewell Season and you can find Heidi's review of that on yesterday's post.  
Let's welcome Ann to the blog!


In The Farewell Season I included a lot of talk about food. Readers noticed. I received many comments about mouths watering and hunger pangs for blueberry kakar or ableskivers. Many assumed I'm good at Scandinavian cooking and some have even asked for recipes.

The truth is, it was all research. I scoured Scandinavian cookbooks at the library and sampled the tasty treats at the Scandinavian Festival in Junction City, Oregon. But I never baked a single crumb mentioned in the story. I do cook, and I and my husband are happy with the results. However, I stick to a collection of familiar (and easy) recipes, because I'm not all that fond of cooking. The enthusiasm for cooking must have skipped a couple of generations, because my grandmother loved to cook and so does my daughter. But my mother and I have cooked because we want to eat.

Non-fiction writers have to do a lot of research, of course, but so do fiction writers. I didn't know all that much about football before I wrote the book, but after reading a few books and attending many football practices, where I asked a lot of questions, I knew enough to write about it for my purposes. I also did research on grieving and grief counseling. For another story, I read an entire book about a minor league baseball team so I could write a couple of scenes where one of the main characters talks to a baseball scout.

Just because a story is fiction does not mean that "anything goes." The details need to ring true. Even in science fiction, fantasy and paranormal adventures things have to make sense to the reader. An imaginary world has to seem real. Anyone writing a historical novel or one set in an unfamiliar locale must get enough facts to be accurate and make the period or place come to life for readers.

It's easy to get lost in too much research. Some writers get so bogged down that they never write the story. Or they add details that are unnecessary just because they couldn't resist including them. Too much information is no better than not enough. The research must help advance the story.

The easiest way to do research, of course, is the internet. But visiting the library can yield nuggets not found online. Sometimes traveling to the location where a story takes place and talking to locals will yield color and details the internet or books can not. Interviews, as scary as they can seem to some writers, can be valuable. If you don't know a doctor, teacher, banker, architect, or whatever you need, ask a friend to introduce you or call, write or email explaining that you are a writer and tell them the basics of what you need to ask. Most experts are more than happy to share what they know.

So get out there and do your research. It can be time-consuming, but it can also be fun, and it will make your story more real.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Heidi Reviews The Farewell Season by Ann Herrick

The Farewell Season by Ann Herrick
ebook, 150 pages
Published: November 11th, 2011
Source: Author

Description from Goodreads:
Eric used to think he'd live forever, but not any more. As football season starts, he hopes he can live normally again after the death of his father, but his refusal to face his grief results in anger at his coach, fights with his sister, resenting added responsibilities, and disillusionment with football. It takes a special relationship with a girl dealing with the divorce of her parents to see he is angry with his father for dying and the way to get through grief is by grieving.

Eric wakes in a fog. It is the first day of football practice for his upcoming senior year.
Eric has always had big football dreams, but now his enthusiasm has waned. He feels
lost, like he is just going through the motions. Nothing is right since his Dad was killed
by a drunk driver four months ago. Eric struggles to get back on track. At football
practice, there are some changes, a new coach, a retiring coach and a vacant seat in
the bleachers where is father used to sit. As the weeks go by, Eric contemplates
quitting, but an unexpected friendship with a girl who is also dealing with the break up of
her family, might just help him clear the fog and learn to live again. Will Eric pursue his
football dreams and find a way to cope with his grief?
What I Liked:
• I enjoyed reading this book through the eyes of a troubled teen boy, as he flounders to
make sense of the world after a horrendous loss. Eric has not come to terms with his
father's death, nor dealt appropriately with his grief. Thus, it is as if he is trying to
paddle his boat upstream without a paddle. I loved all the emotions that were
depicted as he struggles to learn to live again.
• I enjoyed all the secondary characters. Glynnie, the new girl, is shy yet she is able to
see through Eric's brave veneer and provide an unexpected shoulder to cry on for
Eric. I like that she, too, is coping with her own troubles. Most of all I like that the
relationship between them blossoms into a nice, strong friendship with the potential to
perhaps turn into something more. It is just perfect. Next, I adored Rolf. He is Eric's
long time best friend. He is sweet, amiable and full of enthusiasm! I loved his
ravenous and healthy appetite as well.
• I could completely relate to the complicate sibling relationship between Eric and his
younger sister Kristen. It is one of those relationships filled with constant teasing and
antagonism and one where Eric as the older brother fails to see his sister as more
than someone to antagonize because he is so wrapped up in his world. I could totally
relate as I was the younger sister, constantly teased. As the book progresses, I liked
the way things ultimately played out between the two.
• I liked that the author obviously did plenty of research on football in order to bring an
accurate picture of what players go through in order to train for an upcoming season. I
do love football, but I admit I am pretty clueless as far as knowing all that an athlete
does in order to properly condition and strengthen their bodies for a grueling season.
It was interesting to learn about the preseason preparation.

The Farewell Season is a realistic look at how a teenage boy copes with the devastating
loss of his father. An unexpected friendship and an old love for football help him slowly
shake away the heavy fog that encompasses his life. The reader undergoes a poignant
journey as a young man slowly learns to handle his grief and live again.

Favorite Quotations:
"I'd thought I was a man, so strong and macho, but I never felt weaker than when I saw
Dad's casket lowered into the ground. I couldn't stand the idea of him being in the
cemetery."
"I did not add, Give me a break....doesn't everyone who writes think he'll write the Great
American novel?"
"I was floating in a foggy sea of emotions. Maybe if I just gave one big kick, I'd hit dry
land."
"Her long slender fingers were warm and surprisingly strong as they gripped mine. It
was as if she'd thrown me a rope. For a moment, I held on tight."
"When I really thought about it, I realized that I had rushed into things with Trevor and
was really more in love with love than anything...or anyone."
"But sometimes life is unfair and you can't change it. That's just the way it is. All you
can do is change how you react to it."
"So life is not always fair. But the choice is there to make the best of it and keep our
hopes high."

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review.


Find Ann Herrick: Website

This review was provided by Heidi:
I am currently a stay at home mother of two toddlers, who keep me very busy. I also have a wonderful, supportive husband without whom this blog would not be possible.  I am a recent transplant to the rainy, region of Portland, Oregon; thus the reason for my blog Rainy Day Ramblings.  The many rainy days here provide me ample time to snuggle up under a comfy blanket with a cat and read while the rain drips down my window.
I also, when I find time, enjoy baking, candle and jewelry making, cross stitching and spending ample time with family.
Find me on my blog, facebook, and twitter.